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Use of tampons and sexual activity protect women against endometriosis

New Haven, Conn. Using tampons and engaging in sexual activity appears to protect women against developing endometriosis, a painful condition that affects an estimated 10 million American women and often results in infertility, according to research by a Yale physician.

Normally endometrial tissue grows only in the uterus and is shed each month during menstruation. Women with endometriosis have endometrial tissue growing in the Fallopian tubes, ovaries, and other sites within the pelvis, or in rare cases, outside of the pelvic area. It is found in women who are childless or who have children late in life. Women with shorter menstrual cycles and longer periods are also believed to be at higher risk of endometriosis.

"Our study has an important public health message for women, especially at a time when many women seeking infertility care have endometriosis as their primary diagnosis," said Harvey Kliman, M.D., lead author of the study and a research scientist in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Yale School of Medicine. "Our study suggests that tampon use could be one of the strongest protectors against endometriosis."

The study, published in the June issue of the journal Gynecologic and Obstetrical Investigation, looked at whether sexual behaviors, orgasm, tampon use and douching during menstruation modifies the risk of endometriosis. Some 2,012 members of the Endometriosis Association, as well as their friends who are not affiliated with the organization, completed mailed surveys.

Although douching during menstruation did not appear to lessen a womans risk of developing endometriosis, Kliman said sexual activity, orgasm and tampon use seemed to play a role in lessening the risk of developing the condition.

Among the women with endometriosis, 26.5 percent said they sometimes or often engaged in sexual activity during menstruation. Among women who are free of the disease, 34.6 percent said they sometimes or of
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Contact: Jacqueline Weaver
jacqueline.weaver@yale.edu
203-432-8555
Yale University
29-May-2002


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